The Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons offers unique intensive seminars to first-year students using art to broaden their clinical experiences and deepen their insight into the practice of medicine. Begun in 2005, the Arts in Medicine Project expanded the Narrative Medicine Seminars into the use of the visual arts, adding museum-based courses, dance courses, and a life drawing class. Each of the classes is taught with a focus on our educational goals.

Our approach begins with the exploration of observational skills. We believe that there is an extraordinary language within the visual world that is often perceived unconsciously; when properly understood, this language can potentially offer new depths of information about and access to the clinical experience. Our goal is not to teach art history, but rather to use art to further our goals; we explore issues such as empathy, the patient encounter, and the encounter with the self. How does medical thinking resemble and differ from thinking in the “art” world? What kind of changes do we undergo in medical school, in terms of how we see the world?

Columbia students have also embraced the arts on their own during their medical school experience. Student-generated visual art offerings include a life drawing group as well as an art group which offers museum tours and theater experiences.

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"Arts in Medicine Studio" is an innovative art program for pediatric patients at the Pediatric Neurology & Pediatric Oncology/Hematology Clinics at New York's Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. The program brings creativity and enjoyment into the hospital clinic environment. Taking advantage of the very long waiting time in the outpatient clinic, artists come into the clinic waiting room every week to create art with children and their families.

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Our Team:

Edith J. Langner, M.D. (Project Director) practiced internal medicine and endocrinology in Manhattan for 35 years. Affiliated with Roosevelt Hospital , and then New York Hospital, she worked with Cornell Medical School 's Art of Observation Program at the Frick Collection from 1996 to 2003. In this program, medical students came to the Frick Collection to hone their observational skills through the use of classical portraits and photographs. In 2005 she joined Dr. Rita Charon in the Program in Narrative Medicine to begin the Arts in Medicine Project. The Project includes the first year art-based seminars, a fourth year selective in art in medicine, and Wilma's Studio, bringing specially trained artists into the neurology and oncology clinics to work with children in the waiting rooms of the Presbyterian Hospital.

Rika Burnham is Head of Education at The Frick Collection in New York City . Previously she was a museum educator at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she worked from 1985 to 2008. Ms. Burnham was recognized by the National Art Education Association for sustained achievement in teaching in 2001, appointed a Getty Museum Scholar in 2002, and received the James D. Burke Prize for achievement in the arts in 2003, the first museum educator to receive this award. She received the Charles Robertson Memorial Award from the School Art League in 2005, and in 2006 was an Attingham Trust Scholar in The Royal Collection Studies Programme in London . She has been a guest lecturer and conducted workshops at art museums across the United States since 1989. She has been a visiting museum educator of the Summer Institute of Contemporary Art (TICA) and project director of the Teaching Institute for Museum Educators (TIME), both at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; an adjunct professor of Art and Art Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her publications include several essays on museum education, as well as a catalogue essay in Pierre Bonnard: The Late Still Lifes and Interiors (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009), edited by Dita Amory. Her first book, Teaching in the Art Museum: Interpretation as Experience, co-authored with Elliott Kai-Kee, was published in spring 2011.

Carrie McGee is the Associate Educator for Community and Access Programs in the Department of Education at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. She and her colleagues have won international respect for MoMA's unique efforts to make the Museum's extensive resources, collection, and programs accessible to all. Carrie is responsible for developing programming for visitors with disabilities and in collaboration with community-based organizations. She also teaches gallery and studio programs and trains museum educators. In 2009, she co-authored Meet Me: Making Art Accessible to People with Dementia. Carrie also serves on the Board of Directors of the Society for the Arts in Healthcare.

Ephraim Rubenstein is an artist, writer and teacher. He has had over ten one-person exhibitions in New York City- at Tibor de Nagy Gallery, Tatistcheff & Co., and most recently, at George Billis Gallery in Chelsea . His work is included in numerous public and private collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Mr. Rubenstein has been on the faculty of the Rhode Island School of Design, the Maryland Institute College of Art, and the University of Richmond. He is currently on the faculty of the Art Students League of New York and the National Academy of Design.

Anna Willieme is the creator and director of ArtMed inSight which explores connections between art and medicine and currently focuses on the development of educational programs using art to enhance the perceptual, self-awareness and communication skills of medical students, physicians and healthcare professionals. ArtMed inSight has been collaborating with Massachusetts General Hospital since 2007 where it has been providing training programs for residents using art to sharpen visual perception and communication skills. In addition, since 2005, Willieme has been teaching “The Professional Eye,” a course for medical students at Columbia University 's College of Physicians and Surgeons designed to increase visual observational skills. Willieme is also a lecturer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a participating artist in numerous group and solo exhibitions in both Europe and the United States. Working in a variety of media including photography, printing, painting, and installation, her works are in private collections in France, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Germany, and the US. In addition, she is the recipient of grants from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation and the Foundation for Art and Healing.

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